Bill Nye warned Donald Trump’s administration and disregard for science could have “catastrophic” consequences for the planet and for humanity.
In a Facebook Live interview with Bernie Sanders, the popular scientist launched an attack on climate change sceptics and said climate change offered “huge opportunities” for economic growth, the creation of new jobs and was a chance for the US to become a world leader.
Answering a question from Mr Sanders about the implications of having a US President, who previously said climate change was a “hoax created for and by the Chinese”, the man known for the children’s show The Science Guy, said: “The long term implications are potentially catastrophic.
“The problem is the speed at which the world is warming. It’s not that the climate is changing ― it’s the rate.
“Half the people in the world live near coastlines and as the ocean gets a tiny bit warmer, it gets a tiny bit bigger but the ocean is big and a tiny bit is huge,” he said, referring to concerns about sea level rise.
While speculations continues over whether President Trump will pull out of the Paris Agreement, as he promised during his campaign, a series of executive orders have started to dismantle the US’ environmental policies.
This includes a review of a rule over US waters brought in under Barack Obama, which could ultimately make it easier for agricultural and development interests to drain wetlands and small streams.
Last year was declared the warmest year since records began 167 years ago with the Earth experiencing hotter temperatures on land, but also warmer seas and air and melting ice as never seen before.
Scientists from the Met Office and East Anglia University found 2016 was 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the average between 1850 and 1900.
The amount of sea ice at both the Antarctica and the Arctic has hit record lows and leading scientists are worried the effects of global warming might be far worse than previously thought.
While global sea ice is shrinking at unprecedented speed, this has disastrous implications for sea level rise recorded to have risen by almost 7.8 inches due to ice melting since 1870. This is causing flooding of low-lying coastal communities and displacement of fish populations fleeing increasingly warm waters.
But Mr Nye believes the trend can be “turned around” and action in tackling climate change will bring economic benefits.
“It is reasonable to me that if we can show an economic benefit to turning things around, we could turn things around….
“Here is the thing that I find intriguing and important – these should be US jobs. Even if the wind turbine blades are designed in Sweden or Finland or Denmark, you have to put them up, you have to erect the turbines here,” he said.
“There is a huge [economic] opportunity,” he told Mr Sanders, a Democrat candidate in the 2016 Presidential race.
In his discussion with the Senator, himself a staunch defender of the environment, who sits on the energy and environment committees, Mr Nye reaffirmed the scientific facts around climate change “are overwhelming”.
“There’s overwhelming proof. Proof isn’t the word. There’s overwhelming evidence.
“What I believe you are doing on the other side [sceptics] is you are suffering from this magical thing called the backfire effect. When you see evidence that conflicts with your world view you just double down.
But he also launched a stark attack on Fox News’ coverage of climate change and its wariness of the scientific evidence.
“The one thing that really is hard for me about Fox News is the denial of climate change and science. Many of the other things they assert are troubling, but that one is the one that just crosses the line for me.
“From an optimistic point of view if we can get these people to just look at the world a little differently they will be on the side of domestically produced renewable electricity in a very quick short order,” he said.
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The celebrity scientist went on to explain how a combination of renewable energy from wind turbines, solar panels geothermal and tidal energy could make the US could go 100 per cent renewable now.
So we can solve this problem everybody, we can do this and I am a patriot I want the US to be the world leader in this stuff,” he said.
“If you want to kill bird fossil fuel is fantastic,” he added.
“I still – despite the extraordinary events of the last few months – I am still optimistic that the US can become the world leader in renewable energy.”
Mr Nye concluded there are three things that everybody in the world needs to improve standards of living: clean water, renewably produced reliable electricity and access to electronic information, ie the internet.